I have a weird habit of reporting bad news. Unfortunately, my latest downer of a report happens to involve ice cream truck staples once again (RIP, Choco Taco). This time around, a favorite childhood treat of many, the SpongeBob SquarePants Popsicle, is getting a drastic makeover. His bulging gumball eyes, once a signature feature of the treat, are going away, replaced by something much more boring. Forgive us if we’re a little Krabby about this.
Today reports that Instagram user @markie_devo was the one to break the news to social media last week, writing in an Instagram post, “Welp, like all good things that come to an end…The SpongeBob Popsicle will no longer have gumball eyes!!”
The image accompanying the post shows two different packages. While the original label notes “Fruit Punch & Cotton Candy with Gumballs,” the updated design describes the popsicle as “Fruit Punch & Cotton Candy with Chocolatey Eyes.” Chocolatey? That’s not nearly as fun.
It should be said that SpongeBob’s wonky gumball eyes were never positioned quite right, almost always to hilarious effect (see photo above). But the inconsistency was half the fun, and the gum kept your jaws busy long after the popsicle was finished.
I won’t mince words, however: Gumball eyes on frozen desserts have historically always sucked. Growing up, my ice pop of choice was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles one, and though I remember it fondly, even as a kid I knew the gum itself was fucking terrible.
Frozen gumballs have a somewhat stale and crumbly texture to them, which isn’t appealing to chew on. Moreover, the gum almost always loses its flavor within minutes (if it had any to start with). I don’t think the world is a lesser place without SpongeBob’s gumball eyes. Still, it’s the end of an era.
Tracy Shepard-Rashkin, senior brand manager of Klondike, Popsicle, and Good Humor (all brands owned by parent company Unilever), shed some light on the situation. She told The Takeout via email that the brand believes the product’s switch to chocolatey eyes is actually an improvement—that is, it was not a decision based on cost, nor does it speak to any sort of challenge to manufacture the treat in its gumball form.
So, why chocolatey eyes as opposed to, say, simple dyed sherbet? Because “chocolatey eyes would have best quality results in depicting the eyes on SpongeBob.”
So far, feedback on the newly updated treat has been positive, and the chocolatey-eyed version is available at grocery stores now. I did, however, learn one tragic fact that’s bound to disappoint all the ’80s and ’90s kids out there: Now that SpongeBob’s gumball eyes have been gouged out, there are no longer any Popsicle products that have gumballs on them anymore.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping us from buying some black gumballs and sticking them to our Popsicles ourselves, but we all know deep inside that this just wouldn’t feel the same. RIP, SpongeBob’s gumball eyes. We’ll always remember you as being mildly terrible, but we loved you for that.